Eat, pay, eat: Planning a round-the-world trip

OK, I couldn’t resist with the title, even though we’re all pretty sick of Eat, Pray, Love by now.

Unlike Liz Gilbert, my quest to take a round-the-world trip had nothing to do with finding myself; but rather to see the places I’d never gotten around to. And might never if I didn’t jump on it fairly soon. Yeah, time to take that bucket list seriously.

The quest started when a fellow traveler told me about a JetBlue special: a month of unlimited flying. Sounded like fun, but JetBlue’s route map didn’t extend far enough for me. After a relentless winter in the Philly area, where I live, I was really ready to escape.

The plan

1. I thought I’d start by flying from somewhere in the Northeast  2. south to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Ever since reading The Old Patagonian Express as a kid, I’d had a fascination with traveling the length of the Americas.

3. Then, continuing east to Africa. Though I’d been to Egypt and gone on safari in Kenya (where monkeys made off with my underwear), I always had a thing for South Africa, even though I’d never been. Two dear South African Jewish friends who emigrated to the U.S.  always teared up when talking about their beautiful, turbulent homeland. We lost touch, but I felt I owed it to them to take a look; and I wanted to see how the country was doing, post-apartheid.

4. Then north. Though I’d sampled the beaches in Tahiti (Club Med, a story for another time); Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (moved there from DC – extreme culture shock); Hawaii (like Tahiti, a tropical truckstop between Australia and the U.S.); and the Caribbean, I’d never dipped my toe in the Indian Ocean. I looked up the Maldives, a bunch of islands off the Indian coast, and remembered reading somewhere that Katy and Russell and Katie and Tom honeymooned there (not at the same time.). Good enough for me.

5.  A former TV news boss from my days in Australia invited me to stay with his family in Hyderabad, India, a place I’d never heard of. I’d always steered clear of India because another news colleague once warned me never to go there, or I’d “come home in a box.” I was too horrifed to ask why.

Staying with locals sounded like a comfortable safety net. And turns out Hyderabad is home to palaces old and new; the new being one of the biggest Microsoft conglomerates outside of Redmond, Washington.  Hey, I saw Slumdog Millionaire, and follow that cute sitcom Outsourced (even if it is done on an LA soundstage). I sort of knew what I was getting into. Besides, I adore Indian grub.

6. From there, I considered Tasmania, the one state in Australia I hadn’t been to. A gateway to the Antarctic. Home of the Tasmanian Devil. What the devil was a Tasmanian Devil, anyway? I was told Tasmania was Alaska without Sarah Palin (good or bad, depending on your political viewpoint.) Lots of cute sea lions and other critters. Very eco-friendly.

7. Then back to the East Coast, with a stop in San Diego to take a breather.  Wanted to get even more beach time in before heading home.

Looked great on paper. But was it doable? And how?

I was about to find out.

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